Community Centre History
The Community Centre holds a rich history spanning 65 years, evolving from its modest beginnings to become a vital hub for people of all ages within the community. Opening its doors on January 10, 1959, it quickly became a focal point for various activities, from parties to games of Bingo, Whist, and now with the addition of many regular exercise classes and community groups.
Over the years, the Centre has undergone significant transformations. Despite the passage of time, the Centre has retained its importance, with continuous updates ensuring its relevance. It underwent major renovations in 2021, including a roof replacement, cladding on the exterior, and energy-efficient improvements like wall construction and window installations. In December 2023 the main toilets were upgraded which saw baby changing units being installed in both the ladies and gents for inclusivity.
The Community Centre owes its success to the patrons who have contributed to its vibrant atmosphere. The Parish Council expresses gratitude to all those who have frequented this valuable community asset. Notably, the Centre has embraced sustainability by installing solar panels, showcasing a commitment to reducing its carbon footprint for years to come.
The first wedding reception at the Community Centre was held for Margaret and Gerry’s Francis in 1961. Margaret, who lived on Middletons Lane, recalls playing in the cornfield behind her garden during the summer. The reception took place in the Marjorie Lewis Hall, which was considerably smaller before the extension. Margaret’s pictures were taken outside the front doors.
During World War II, Hellesdon housed Italian POWs, some of whom befriended Margaret’s family. In 1999, Margaret and her family flew to Italy for a reunion with the former POW, attending his grandson’s wedding. The enduring connection highlights the lasting impact of relationships formed during challenging times.
In a heartwarming twist, the Community Centre gained national attention in the summer of 2023 when it was featured on an episode of “Long Lost Families.” Ex-Hellesdon resident Diane reminisced about her 60s disco experiences at the Centre and was ultimately reunited with a long-lost family member through the show, showcasing the enduring significance of the Community Centre in fostering connections and memories within the community.
In November 2022, the Community Café initially opened its doors for two days a week. Due to overwhelming demand, it quickly expanded to three days and now operates four days a week (Tuesday to Friday from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm). The Café offers a warm and inviting atmosphere for both customers and centre users, featuring a diverse menu of delicious homemade food prepared by our chef Keith.
The menu includes a variety of options, ranging from homemade cakes, scones and sausage rolls which are available daily as well as a set menu and a specials board, ensuring customers always have a wide selection of choices to enjoy.